In August of 2022, The New York Times published an article entitled, "An Old Medicine Grows New Hair for Pennies a Day, Doctors Say.”
As Wellbel’s medical director, you can only imagine the amount of times it was forwarded to me. Since first published, I have received an overwhelming number of questions about Minoxidil and its uses for hair regrowth treatment for men and women.
The article would have you believe that Minoxidil is some sort of miracle treatment, doing what topical Rogaine claims to do, at a fraction of the cost. As a triple-board certified cardiologist, that narrative concerns me.
First, a brief history lesson.
Minoxidil was originally developed by the Upjohn Company to treat gastric ulcers. Although it did not successfully treat these ulcers, it was found to be an effective treatment for hypertension and was approved in 1979 to be given orally for this indication.
When it was discovered that Minoxidil used topically can improve hair growth, companies like Rogaine quickly capitalized. But in the New York Times article, some dermatologists are advocating for oral intake of Minoxidil.
The New York Times advocating for Minoxidil-use for patients with presumably normal blood pressure gave me pause for concern. Even at low dosages, Minoxidil works by dilating your arteries and lowering your blood pressure. If your blood pressure is normal, this drop in pressure can be dangerous since low blood pressure can cause lightheadedness, dizziness, and fainting spells in some people.
In my many years as a cardiologist, Minoxidil has never been a first line drug for even the most difficult patients with hypertension. This is because Minoxidil can cause unwanted and/or potentially dangerous side effects like weight gain from water retention, unwanted facial hair growth in women, and palpitations.
On another note, the 1/40th of a dose cited by the article is only available at specialty pharmacies. This dosage requires that the medication be compounded — a capability many retail pharmacies do not have. That being said, even if the safety and efficacy could be established, the cost would certainly not be pennies a day.
I understand the urgency around hair loss and hair health. It can be so frustrating to deal with hair loss, whether it’s on your head or on your beard. But at Wellbel, we believe hair health comes from within and can be achieved without the use of drugs.
Our supplements contain clean and vegan ingredients which give the body what it needs to thrive and in turn balance your hormones and rejuvenate your hair, skin, and nails. In the rush toward improving hair growth, make sure you put your body’s needs first.